Many people who wish to develop a legal career start their journey by obtaining a graduate law degree (LLB). Until the SQE, this was known as the start of the traditional route for qualification – completing a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) in one of the 100+ institutions offering this degree in the UK, or a non-qualifying law degree following by the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), then completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is the vocational stage of training, and finally a two-year training contract at a law firm prior to qualification.
When the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) will be introduced in 2021, law graduates will no longer need to complete the LPC as a pre-requisite. Candidates who did not study law, will not need to complete the GDL course.
The LPC route is expensive and does not guarantee that law and non-law graduates will secure a training contract. Despite this, students continued to invest heavily in recent years in taking the LPC. Moreover, the lack of a common basis for assessing the quality of output from the +100 institutions which offered the LPC, or at the end of the training contract, was a cause of increasing concern in the legal sector.
The abolition (or phasing out) of the LPC saves substantial time and costs for anyone looking to become a solicitor, while at the same time the introduction of a centralised assessment such as the SQE ensures that all aspiring solicitors, no matter what institution they attended or pathway they took, are assessed against the same high standard of competence.